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Young Montalbano, Episodes 7-12 (MHz Releasing/DVD/2015)

These two separate DVD disks take us a couple of years on past the first two seasons which were released in 2012. As is indicated by the title, we are seeing the younger version of Luca Zingaretti’s Commissario Montalbano (episodes 1-28) as a younger man, fairly new to his job as leader of a squad in the fictional town of Vigàta, Sicily. 

Based on the successful novels of Andrea Camillen, the two television series are based entirely in Sicily, so the filmmakers have been able to explore the beautiful towns, beaches and mountains in this geologically unstable region. The new series, set, one supposes, in the mid-1970s, has the under-30 Montelbano (Michele Riondino)  as the newly-appointed chief of police, overseeing a unit which solve crimes – some created by the conflicts between the two Mafia families in his district; some out of passion – in this reasonably isolated part of southern Sicily.

One of the glorious aspects of the older detective is the amount of time he spends eating (and not gaining weight, the bastard!) This younger version likes his food, alright, but is more interested in his simmering relationship with the Genoese architect, Livia Burlando, his age, played by the ravishingly beautiful Sarah Felberbaum. His unit consists of his best friend, the dreadfully womanizing Mimi Augullo (Alessio Vassello); the squad’s notoriously clumsy Catarella (Fabrizio Pizzuta), played well for slapstick; the handsomest in the cast, Giuseppe Fazio (Beniameno Marcone); and his father, Carmine (Andrea Tidona), recently retired, but always available as a mentor. 

The three episodes of the first tape are: “The Man Who Followed Funerals,” about the murder of a kindly, lonely individual, admired for attending funerals of everybody in Vigàta, even those he didn’t know.  “Room Number Two”: when a local hotel goes up in flames, killing one of the guests, arson is suspected and the team must unravel the mystery of why. “Death on the High Seas,” brings Montalbano and his team to find out why a seemingly accidental death of a fisherman looks and smells like murder.

The second collection of three (two separate disks) are: “The Settlement,” when a well-respected doctor is murdered, young Montalbano must examine the problems of love which may have influenced his death, but which also force him to examine the problems he having with Livia, the woman he is to marry. “The Honest Thief,” puts our young man in an emotional pickle: can he give up his career in Sicily and move to Genoa to support Livia’s ambitions after they marry, while wedded to his career? The problems here are that several thefts have involved specific amounts of small monies which make no sense on the surface.  Will our intrepid hero get to the bottom of it all? Of course. And finally, “An Apricot,” where in the disappearance and probable murder of a young woman is solved by a particular fruit she didn’t eat.

The overall quality direction of Gianluca Maria Tavarelli, the consistently up-to-par scripts by F. Bruni, A. Camilleri, S De Mola and L. Marini, the cinematography (by Marco Pieroni), and the editing of Alessandro Heffler all add up to some superior television.

The show took a two year hiatus before the latest six episodes were filmed and broadcast. Because of the popularity of the original (two new episodes are out now), the prequel show has played around Europe and North America, so you should buy these (the entire set, if able) to see what the hosannas are about (